|Corey Brewer, SF 30 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | -10
Being so reliant on Brewer’s offense is not a good look for the Nuggets, I commend Brewer for doing his best, but he remains a limited player with negligible dribbling and passing skills. Brew didn’t have his shot going and while he played commendable defense, he was an offensive liability and couldn’t stay on the floor down the stretch. This is the wrong role for Brewer and he’ll be much more valuable when asked to do less. I do wish he’d pass up the occasional shot and focus more on working off the ball.
|Kenneth Faried, F 11 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -11
It’s baffling. After a career game, Faried can’t get the slightest bit of leeway with Karl. Nevertheless he again failed to make an impression out of the gate. His issues with defensive positioning and executing on offense are fixable. I honestly believe Faried would be better off were he not battling the incumbent Al Harrington for minutes. The only way he can get into games is to come out relentless on an absolute tear. It’s important not to overlook the fact Faried did have a very poor game and was overshadowed by Koufos and Birdman.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -18
I don’t like how Karl managed his minutes, leaving him in almost the whole first quarter after it was clear he was too gassed to keep Ibaka under control. Mozgov makes a huge difference in the Nuggets being able to run an effective pick and roll offense. Unfortunately, he needs to be more consistent and at least prove himself capable of playing a more substantial amount of minutes. This is such an unenviable position for Karl to be in because there will be nights like tonight where Koufos is the much better option. How do you decide who to play?
|Arron Afflalo, SG 43 MIN | 10-21 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 27 PTS | -16
At times, like everyone else on the team, Afflalo struggled with defense quite a bit. OKC is such a poor matchup because Durant is too tall for Denver to use their best defender on him consistently. What was most apparent about Arron’s effort was his tenacity and commitment to staying aggressive. The shorthanded Nuggets actually played like the more aggressive team despite losing and I believe the bulk of the credit can go to Afflalo’s leadership, a quality he hasn’t displayed nearly enough this season
|Ty Lawson, PG 46 MIN | 8-17 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 17 PTS | -4
These are great numbers for any starting point guard, but without a win it just feels very forgettable. Lawson has no feel for where his teammates need the ball and he’s often reduced to getting everything off dribble penetration. Ty had the ball two crucial possessions down the stretch and failed to get off a quality look on either of them. We know Ty can create a quality shot whenever he wants and what’s so disappointing is that a signature game winning moment is still missing from his Nuggets career.
|Al Harrington, PF 32 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | +3
Harrington had a double double, and managed to make two three pointers after he’s been unable to deliver offense for the better part of the month. That’s where the praise ends for me. I just don’t like where the Nuggets are going with Harrington in this huge role where he plays nearly the whole second half and defends the oppositions best player night in and night out. Harrington needs a much smaller role for the Nuggets to have any success going forward.
|Andre Miller, PG 36 MIN | 9-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 21 PTS | +3
It was refreshing to see Andre come alive off the bench and play with purpose. This was one of the fineest performances I’ve seen all season as long as we don’t include the overtime. Miller had 3 turnovers in the extra period and his frustration boiled over in the loss. I can’t praise Miller enough for giving the Nuggets an edge that should have won them the game in the second half. Andre seemed to know how poorly he played in the overtime period and was seen leaving the court in total disgust. We haven’t seen that kind of emotion out of Miller all season and hopefully it becomes a turning point for him. While he was abysmal in OT, Denver never gets there without him.
|Chris Andersen, C 29 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +17
Another energetic performance from Birdman. He made countless hustle plays and defended the rim with the type of tenacity that made him the best backup Center in the league 2 seasons ago. Consistency is underlying issue surrounding everything Birdman does.
|Kosta Koufos, C 13 MIN | 6-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | -3
Koufos was nothing short of a monster in his first half stint. He managed nearly a double double in less than a quarter. He was everywhere, from knocking balls loose and defending Durant at half court to throwing down jams in transition. It was a sight to behold considering Koufus might not have seen the floor had Al Harrington not racked up three quick fouls. Jeremy made a great point about how trusting the inexperienced Faried over Harrington may have cost Karl in Memphis and he seemed resolved not to reward Koufos tonight.
|Jordan Hamilton, G 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +9
Hamilton saw his first real minutes of the season and made a few nice plays as the Nuggets enjoyed a successful run. Then he was abruptly pulled from the game. There’s just not enough to judge here and I don’t know what to say other than Hamilton has decent size and solid offensive skills.
Five Things We Saw
- State of the Nation: This loss drops Denver out of the playoffs and into the 9th seed. The Nuggets are on a three game losing streak, have won only 2 of their last 8 and are beginning a 4 games in 5 nights stretch during what I consider to be the toughest stretch of schedule all season. I love the way Denver fought till the end despite all their injuries, but a loss is a loss. Fighting their way back into the playoffs is an uphill battle. Under the best of circumstances, you cant expect Denver to win their next 6 games. Realistically I think they win 2 and lose 4 before the schedule lightens up considerably in March.
- Positive Contact: The way to attack a shot blocker is to get into his body and absorb contact. The Nuggets did a great job employing this tactic against Perkins and Ibaka all night. Unfortunately, Ibaka is one of the more amazing shot blockers I have ever seen play. He was the X-Factor in last year’s playoff series and although he got away with a ton of contact at the rim, he again dominated under the basket. Ibaka’s performance was unbelievable.
- Things You Can Do: The positive in this losing streak is the fact Denver’s passion and pride have returned on the defensive end. Afflalo is embracing his leadership role and demanding more activity. Andre Miller is finally feeling a sense of responsibility with the ball in his hands. The Nuggets are collectively fighting harder than they have all month, but their fortunes have not yet changed. How many more demoralizing losses can this team endure?
- Upgrade Your Gray Matter: As much as I love Lawson, I can’t help but notice how easily he gives up running the offense. When a defender meets him on his first step going right, he simply backs off and tries again or gives up the ball without applying any pressure whatsoever. As I noted before, Lawson hasn’t yet made a game winning play in his Nuggets career. He is too diplomatic and friendly with his teammates instead of demanding accountability. Lawson was passive on two game winning possessions and showed little chemistry with his teammates. The coaches must do a better job designing plays the personnel is able to execute. The Nuggets late game play-calling is deplorable and it just seems like they are freestyling without much of a thought towards an actual strategy.
- Crises Precipitate Change: After the Nuggets briefly clawed out of a bad slump these last few losses have been heartbreaking. Denver is playing good enough to win and keeps coming up short against better teams. Something has to give at some point, but it’s just tough to take losing so many games in disheartening fashion. While it’s hard to feel horrible about the last two losses considering the way they were played, the fact remains Denver needs a win badly. The playoffs are in serious jeopardy.
Game 32 Advanced Stats
Pace Factor: 104.6 -Nuggets got their pace going before falling apart late
Offensive Efficiency: 112.8 – Good without Gallo and Nene, but no win.
Defensive Efficiency: 118.5 – Denver isn’t a good defensive team, but they try. Durant wasn’t doubled. The Nuggets could not match up with Ibaka
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